About People

Another busy week has passed, with a great new discovery, an impromptu gig and a planned show under our belt.

Last Tuesday at the Linsmore, I got to see and hear the very charming Moscow Apartment perform, featuring Brighid Fry and Pascale Padilla. Combining beautiful and youthful harmonies, spare but tasteful guitar work, and quirky lyrics, this duo seems destined for great things. Their bios speak to a lot of musical experience even if the bar scene may be new to them. Each had unique qualities to their voices (Pascale reminding me a bit of Feist, while Brighid of friend Mary Stewart), and playing styles that blended to create a greater-than-sum of the parts. They were a delight and I wish them well!

Here they are performing “Annie

After Moscow Apartment finished their set, host and multy-threat talent Drew Chale played an extended set. At first, I assumed that was part of the plan, but by the time 10:00 rolled around, it became evident that the second and third act had not shown up, for reasons unknown still. As I was considering heading home, Drew collared me to play a half a dozen impromptu songs, followed by Gary Edward Allen. It turned out to be a fun, and cheap night out! Thanks to Mary Gilbert and the club for the honorarium!

Thursday night was the date for my first time at the Eton House, with Elana Harte and M. E Law. I was looking forward to this show, but the weather and the Stanley Cup semi-finals conspired against us, so we had a spree, albeit appreciative crowd, and each other. Elana blew me away as usual with the quality and power of her voice, and Marion, no slouch in the voice department, resonated for me in the sometimes pointed but still humorous observations she made, something I strive to do in some of my songs too.

Here I am with Marion and the infamous Michigan J. Frog tie.

Which finally brings me to the topic in the title, by which I mean writing songs that talk about people. It’s been alluded to in this post that some of my songs can be ranty. I accept that, and that some songs are more finessed at it than other. There is a certain cathartic quality to getting this stuff off my chest, but there are also inherent risks, such as causing considerable offence. See, it’s one thing to pick on celebrities such as in a song I wrote called “In These Times We Live In“, which I hope to remix and upload soon, it’s quite another to point the finger at someone “ordinary”; it could easily degenerate into holding that person to ridicule. Not good for anyone. Some songs have accomplished that delicate task by making the specific more general, and disguising enough the identity of the targeted person, or making the character in the song an amalgam of more than one person. Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” is a great example.

I have tried to keep in mind with these types of songs, like “The Queen is Dead“, and the newest “Loud Girl“. I try to be guided by the idea that observed events should be reported in as a non-judgmental way as possible, that the context was very public, and that in the end, the listener should hopefully feel that the song did not harshly deride a specific known person. And it must rhyme.

On the other hand, it may also be a question of how egregious the behaviour was. Tough call.

I have included a rough demo of Loud Girl below. Let me know if you think I am sticking to my own guidelines, particularly if you were there when the events it describes occurred. I say no more.

Loud Girl ©2017 R. Pelletier/Félix and the Cats

Loud Girl

Verse 1:
I love the loud girl
The not-too-proud girl
The flouncy bouncy
All in white girl
Perched high upon the ledge
Dancing too near the edge
She beckons for attention
Lacking all circumspection

She whistles too loud in my ear
And makes the sound I don’t want to hear
She may not like what I would say
Then she’ll stand up, and simply walk away

Verse 2:
She is the wild girl
The fun-inside girl
Dancing and prancing
In her happy world
Plié and arabesque
In her mind’s discotheque
Twerking to get a rise
Skirt hiked up to her thighs

Verse 3:
Now she’s the gone girl
The Cinnabon girl
The steamy creamy
All too much girl
Was it wrong if I stared?
If I did had she cared?
Is it for me to measure?
She dances for her pleasure



Old Dog, New Tricks

After much prodding, soul-searching and a few humbling recordings, I finally decided that, for the good of the band, I needed to take proper singing lessons. Quite honestly, this has been the most neglected part of my craft, so it is now time to make it as right as I can.

Fellow traveller Sam Taylor provided some good advice a month ago. That conversation led me to seek the structure of formalized lessons to put his suggestions into practice. A good friend recommended Elite Music Academy, where she is taking guitar lessons. I was initially hesitant, due to the “School of Rock” promotional material posted in the windows, but after checking out their site and popping in for a chat, I quickly realized they had the quality teaching I was looking for. Even better, both sites are very close to home.

Image from Elite Music Academy (https://elitemusic.ca/voice-lessons-toronto/jaclyn-serre-singing-and-guitar-lessons/)

I selected Jaclyn Serre as she seemed to have the most rock music singing in her background. She also plays guitar so I believed she would have a good understanding of the context I perform in. There is nothing wrong with musical theatre singing, it’s just not what I want to sound like.

Two lessons in, I am totally impressed with her approach and I am optimistic that it will pay off, as look as I do the exercises!

I asked Jaclyn after the first session whether she also performed in clubs, and it turned out she had just recently joined Just Heart, a locally-based Heart tribute band. She plays the Nancy Wilson part, alongside Valerie Shearman as Ann Wilson, including going blonde for the job! I had also briefly met Valerie at the Kelly Jay benefit I wrote about briefly last year.

The band was recently featured on CHCH television. Below is my favourite part of the video!

Jaclyn shows us how to “Kick It Out”.

Finally, my next show is this coming Thursday at the Eton House, hosted by the awesomely talented Elana Harte, and featuring the remarkable M.E Law. FatC will be up third, again in the “unplugged” version. We’re looking forward to seeing a bunch of friendly faces there. New material will be featured.MReduxPoster

That’s all this week, so be well!


Oh mama!

This week’s post will be brief, as mothers in the best sense of the word require deserved attention.

A quick recap of the week… Despite thoughts I would not make it out, I ended up attending for a brief while Gary Edward Allen’s open mic at Legends. Again, Gary drew out an amazing cast of players, including Julian Taylor who played a captivating set. It seems other notables showed up after I left, but it was a school night after all. The discovery of the evening was Bonnie Memphis, who is like a cross between Elvis and Sandra Bullock. I mean that in the most flattering way as I am fond of both.

Friday was a busy night attending two birthdays, the first for a friend from the Hot Docs group I’m a part of, and the second for Omar Saab, singer/guitarist for the Lonely Hearts and Alright Alright, which I’ve written about before.

I caught a great set at the Nightowl, and here is a taste of that below. Sorry for the bad video quality, the cover got in the way of the sensor. Plenty of dancing and good times! Can somebody please book these guys in the east end already?

Things are slowly getting prepped for the next FatC show on May 25 at the Eton House. More on that in next week’s blog.

Until then, be well!


Degrees of Separation

We will be going back in time in the episode, in two ways.

First, I will be talking about the week that passed, but beginning with Friday, then Thursday. The second reference to the past will be in the content of the first part. Please consult your lawyer for explanation.

This past Friday, as promised in the last blog, I went to hear Circle 5 with Hermina George at Dora Keogh. The band delivers beat-infectious reggae originals and covers, and a full house enjoyed a great set.

Left to right: Fergus Hambleton, Sam Weller, Hermina George, Trish Campbell, Sun Ray Grennan, Bruce Mack.

The connection to Hermina goes back a few years, as her son was a student at the school where I work. When I found out she was a singer, I recruited her to front a couple of teacher/parent bands we put together for school fundraisers, once with NeMo on bass, and more recently and notably in a big R&B band with a 4-piece horn section made up of students from a nearby high school. It was one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever done, and Hermina really delivered.

Julie, Fergus & Hermina

But the connection gets even more complex as I recently discovered. Fergus Hambleton, Hermina’s guitarist and collaborator also works with singer, writer, and keyboardist Julie Long, a frequent performer at Relish Bar and Grill, my home away from home for all things musical. She also happen to be the daughter of Jack Long founder of Long and McQuade, and brother of Steve at Yorkville Sound, both for whom I worked for nearly a decade in the 80s.

Never mind six degrees of separation, this is maybe 3 at most! The music scene in Toronto is a very tight-knit group, and an overwhelmingly great group of people.

Taking one more step back, Thursday past was the first ever open mic at Legends, hosted by Gary Edward Allen. I managed to convince Leanna Yamada to come down for the inauguration and, with some coaxing, she delivered a few of her not-often-played originals for a well-received set.

A little after my set, the awesome Tyler Ellis showed up and invited me to sit in, which is always great fun. That evening though, we were joined on flute by Doriann Forrester, a Juno-nominated musician who showed us just why that was the case. It made for an impressive first night. Thanks to Gary for spearheading this, to all the other performers for your excellent performances and encouragement, and to owner Nick Papalambropoulos for supporting live music in Toronto. Yes, I am available for a gig in June (and onward)… just sayin’!

Until next week, be well!



Yes, I know…it’s late. Sorry!

Part of the reason was a busy work week, which took me to Québec City, accompanying a group of 11 and 12 year-olds on a an excursion. Short version: the kids were excited but nice. No worries there.

The revelation came on Thursday evening when we went L’érablière in Lac Beauport for a French-Canadian dinner and maple taffy tasting (followed by marshmallow roasting over a bonfire — kids, sugar and pointed sticks; what could go wrong?
15590441_10154010462485863_5436514906929687339_nDuring dinner, we were entertained by a bearded chansonnier in a checked shirt, playing guitar on his own and singing in both English and French. Good thing the prudish Anglos didn’t understand the lyrics to the second verse of Plume Latraverse’s Retour à la Terre.

Having first hand knowledge of how challenging handling these kids can be, I was very impressed by this performer’s ability to engage not only my group of three dozen, but two other groups as well. That’s when I realized he would be the subject of this blog: another “Fellow Traveller”.

Turns out his name is Charles (Chuck) Lehoullier. I only spoke with him briefly, enough to get his okay to write this, but beyond that had to research him the usual googly way. I seems he was a DJ on a local radio station, and from what he said, he was working on an album. So far, I cannot find any samples of his music, but I am hoping he will let me know when something is ready and I will link to it. All I can say from the material he played is that he has the voice and presence to carry over a large group of noisy kids. Well done!

IMG_0005 (1)
Entre deux bécosses – faut le faire!

Anyway, the point of all this, as I touched on in Fellow Travellers Part 4 post, is that performing in all its forms, originals, covers, dinner music, kids entertainer, etc. requires dedication and hard work. If the audience is appreciative, then one has done the job. Chuck did.

Charles, mon ami, si tu lis ceci, laisse-le moi savoir!

Coming later this week and likely to be topics on the next blog:

18057164_10158658533250594_341610855107340475_nThe first ever open mic at Legends on the Danforth, Thursday, May 4, 2017, hosted by Gary Edward Allen.

I will be there along with Susanne Maziarz Tony Oldland Scar-Bro Pete Jana Teovano Cristian Cioata Anita Tank Phil Larkin Stratos Grigorakos Nick Papalambropoulos and Tiffany Fairborn. Awesome lineup!


18194078_10154324084036402_3652729976180979529_nFriday, I am seeing the fabulous Hermina George with Circle 5 at Dora Keogh Irish Pub, and will report on that show, and my connection to Hermina in Sunday’s blog.

Somehow, I have to fit in Hot Docs films in between. Should be busy but very interesting. So, until next week, be well!